Kevin Bell Talks Adaptive Learning at SXSWedu

March 20, 2014

Presents at Gates Foundation Event on the College’s New Pilot Program

Playing a lead role in the Northeastern University College of Professional Studies’ new adaptive learning pilot program resulted in an invitation for Kevin Bell to participate on the Gates Foundation’s adaptive learning panel event this month at South by Southwest Edu (SXSWedu). SXSWedu is a popular education conference that is an outgrowth of the SXSW music conference held in Austin, TX, every year. Bell is Northeastern executive director for online, Curriculum Development and Deployment.

As Bell and Peter Stokes, Northeastern vice president of global strategy and business development (who took part in another panel event at the conference on behalf of the University), noted in their Aspire blog post, “the [SXSW] conference agenda, which encompasses a broad set of K-12 and postsecondary concerns, covered a wide range of ‘future-impact’ ground – competency–based education, badges, gamification, adaptive learning, MOOCs, assessment, cognitive science, and other usual suspects.”

Funded by the Gates Foundation and offered in conjunction with Shoreline Community College in Seattle, WA, the joint adaptive learning program is wrapping up its first winter cohort of 53 students.

The program educates students based on their individualized needs and learning preferences through a special technology developed by CogBooks, a leading adaptive learning platform. The adaptive learning software provides supplemental content as needed by each student, recording their time on activities and modules, gathering assessment data to develop the learning path for each student, and provides reports to instructors. Instructors map course content in the adaptive learning platform and use CogBooks to answer questions students pose in the system, monitor student performance, and guide class discussion.

Preliminary outcomes from Northeastern and Shoreline’s winter 2013-2014 cohort show a significant difference between student’s retention and learning outcomes when adaptive learning technologies are used compared to not using the technology. Results at this stage show fewer withdrawals and higher levels of attainment in the two test classes, English and Microeconomics, this year (with adaptive) compared to last year’s (non-adaptive) courses.

Faculty feedback also reflects a marked difference.

Dr. Andy Grover, Professor of Economics at Shoreline Community College, is teaching the winter cohort of Introduction to Microeconomics class. According to information Bell presented during the panel event, Grover noted that “comparing this adaptive 2014 version with the fall 2013 non-adaptive class, I have seen that this quarter the students are progressing to the next level of content with greater ease…without the same stumbling blocks as in previous quarters….students across the board seem to have mastered these concepts better than in previous quarters.”

And in student survey responses:

Stay tuned for more updates on this exciting new program as the spring (and summer) cohort will soon be underway!